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What is Herpes?
What is Herpes?
Genital herpes primarily affects the genital area, though it can affect other areas of the body, such as the mouth or anus. It remains in the body for life and can become active at any time, even after many years of dormancy.
Genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus. There are two types of HSV: type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). Most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2. HSV-1 most often affects the mouth and lips and causes cold sores or fever blisters. But HSV-1 can spread from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex.
Genital herpes infections are mostly asymptomatic, so most people may remain unaware of herpes infection for many years. If you have signs and symptoms during your initial outbreak, they will most likely occur within 2 days to 2 weeks after being infected. Symptoms may last anywhere from 2-4 weeks — subsequent outbreaks typically occur 4-5 times per year and become less frequent and less severe over time.
The primary symptom of an HSV outbreak is the appearance of painful or itchy blisters, ulcers, or sores in the genital area, which includes your sexual organs, groin, buttocks, anus, and inner thighs. They may appear as small red bumps to large ulcers. The blisters are filled with fluid, crust over, and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Before the blisters appear, there may be tingling, burning, itching, or pain at the site where the blisters will appear.
During the initial outbreak, genital herpes symptoms may also include flu-like characteristics such as:
• Sore throat
• Body aches
• General body chills
• Other severe herpes symptoms may include painful urination, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, and urethral discharge.
Genital herpes doesn't only cause painful sores and symptoms. It may profoundly impact your emotional health, contributing to lower self-esteem and even depression. It can also damage your relationship with your partner and others, and hurt your sex life. Frequent outbreaks may cause you emotional stress. If genital herpes severely affects your life, general well-being, and interpersonal relationships, getting testing and proper treatment can get you started on your journey toward relief.
Testing often involves swabbing one of the lesions or collecting blood samples and sending them to a lab for analysis. Cue makes testing for genital herpes easy and discreet with a blood collection kit you can use at home. Simply follow instructions in the Cue Health App to collect your samples, then send them to one of our labs for fast online results. Should you test positive, we offer a virtual consultation with a board-certified clinician that can discuss treatment options with you. The right testing and treatment can improve your sexual health and help minimize outbreaks. Cue helps you get fast, discreet care so you can begin treatment quickly if you need it.
Who It Affects
Genital herpes affects an estimated 491 million people between the ages of 15-49 worldwide.³ You can get genital herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has an active HSV infection. Genital herpes spreads through direct contact with an infected person's herpes sore, genital fluids or skin in the genital area, or saliva or skin near the mouth of a person who has oral herpes. You may also get genital herpes from a partner who does not have a visible sore or is unaware of their infection.
HSV can also spread to an unborn baby during vaginal birth or if the mother had HSV-2 for the first time within the last 6 weeks of their pregnancy. This leads to a condition known as neonatal herpes.
What Treatment Looks Like
Genital herpes is a lifelong infection. Currently, there is no cure for herpes. However, there are several treatment options available for those affected by herpes. They help to shorten healing time, alleviate symptoms, and reduce how long and how often you have outbreaks. In some cases, they may also decrease the risk of spreading the virus to others.
You may be prescribed antiviral herpes medications such as acyclovir or valacyclovir (Valtrex).
Oral treatments are 70-80% effective at reducing outbreaks, making them a great option for anyone seeking relief from frequent outbreaks.⁴
How Cue Can Help You Find Relief
You don't have to feel alone if you have genital herpes. It's not easy to manage the symptoms and the effects that frequent herpes outbreaks can have on your health, well-being, and relationships.
Fortunately, there's a way to detect herpes and manage symptoms and outbreaks. Cue makes it easy to test and get treatment for genital herpes. With Cue, you can order a test from home, get your results, speak with a healthcare provider on-demand, and get treatment prescribed and delivered fast, all through the Cue Health App. It's convenient, easy, and discreet.